More than 100 Jewish academics sign open letter demanding the Trump administration stop exploiting anti-Semitism in order to quash criticism of Israel on college campuses.
By Joshua Leifer | +972 | Oct 6, 2019
‘We have the Department of Education leveraging an attack on a conference related to Gaza to have a chilling effect on free speech overall on campuses.’
— Lara Friedman, president of Foundation for Middle East Peace
Jewish academics are fighting back against the Trump administration’s attempts to silence criticism of Israel on college campuses. More than 100 Jewish scholars have signed an open letter to the U.S. Department of Education in response to its demand that the Duke-University of North Carolina Consortium for Middle East Studies modify its curricular programming or face defunding.
The open letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose signatories include renowned scholar Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, and artist Molly Crabapple, condemns the Education Department’s recent investigation of the consortium and subsequent ultimatum as “an unfounded and anti-democratic campaign of intimidation” and charges the Education Department with “exploiting fears of anti-Semitism” and “using Jews and our concerns over anti-Semitism to try and justify repressive policies.”
The letter also denounces the “shocking Islamophobia running throughout” the Education Department’s letter announcing the investigation’s findings.
DeVos ordered the investigation into the Duke-UNC Consortium following a complaint that a conference it hosted last March on the politics of the Gaza Strip — which featured several well-respected American, Israeli, and Palestinian experts — demonstrated “severe anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric.”